Monday, July 27, 2009

“See Dick and Jane Screen” by Danny Bloom and Nina Munteanu

When my journalist friend Danny Bloom told me about the new term he’d invented to describe reading on the computer screen, I had to take it to the next level and here is what came of our collaboration (a new paradigm and a new book for your kids to learn the ABC’s of English (out soon on LOL!):

See Jane screen. Jane is screening. Jane likes to screen.
See Dick screen. Dick is screening, too. Dick likes to screen.
See Dick and Jane screening. They are screening because they like to screen.
Screen, screen screen!
Screening is fun.
Hey, Mom and Dad, do you want to screen with us?
We are having fun screening.
Screening is so much fun.
We can screen all our books online now. We love to screen.
See Jane screen. Jane is screening. Jane likes to screen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Napa River Inn & Mumm’s Sparkling Pinot Noir

Neither Margaret nor I was terribly keen on joining the kids for the day at 6 Flags outside San Francisco. So we made our own plans… more sophisticated plans...plans that included quality touring and sightseeing...oh, and drinking, of course…

The town of Napa, with its newly renovated Old Town along the Napa River, lies fifty miles north of San Francisco in the heart of legendary Napa Valley—our first stop.

As we aimlessly wandered along the Old Town Napa River waterfront, we stumbled upon the former Napa Mill, an old brick building that currently houses a quaint stretch of stores, galleries and the historically preserved hotel, the Napa River Inn.

Margaret slid into a comfortable seat in the hotel’s lobby to plan our day on the wine trail, while I wandered—well, more like followed Toulouse—and found him seated by the stone fireplace with the Concierge, Renee Chaney, an intelligent woman with a weakness for wily French cats with pink necklaces. Renee described the history of the building to us:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Architecture of Dreams & the Salk Institute

Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality—Jonas Salk

Prize-winning biologist Jonas Salk was certain that the inspiration that led to his development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s came from the contemplative setting of Assisi, Italy. Salk’s progress had been slow in his basement laboratory in Pittsburg, so he decided to travel to Assisi, Italy, to clear his head. Amid his ambles within the cloistered courtyards and elegant columns of a 13th Century monastery, Salk was struck with fresh insights, including the one that led to his successful polio vaccine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NEA Expo in the San Diego Convention Centre

Toulouse and I recently attended the NEA Expo in San Diego, California, where my book, The Fiction Writer, was being showcased. It had just been showcased at Book Expo America in New York and was one of the first books to be available through Lightning’s Espresso Book Machine.

Over a hundred exhibitors participated in the NEA expo, attended by over 15,000 delegates from as far away as Georgia and New York. Highlights (for delegates, anyway) were the steel water bottle giveaway by Target, which generated snaking lines all the way to the Starbucks outside the Exhibit Hall and the NEA Expo tote bags, whose line up I unintentionally stumbled into and emerged with a blue bag. I must confess that my very own Fiction Writer pens became a hot item with teachers, eager to take notes with their new green pen that sported the Pixl Alien logo of the Alien Guidebook series.

During the three day drive from Vancouver to San Diego with friend, Margaret, Toulouse and I weathered 105 degree heat and Interstate 5 boredom through frequent Starbuck’s stops (for wireless, sustenance and to cool off), chowing down cool meals at Applebee’s (they are everywhere!) and bedding down at Motel 6s.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Love NY: The Spirit of New York & Andrée Putnam’s Design of the Morgans Hotel

New York is the Paris of America—Nina Munteanu

Toulouse and I began our New York experience with Manhattan and Morgans Hotel. I’d booked us there for an incredible deal—rooms typically go for $600+/night (I won’t tell you what I got mine for! LOL!)

Morgans Hotel is often described as the first boutique-hotel. Designed by Andrée Putnam in 1983, the hotel flaunts a retro-contemporary-modernism that truly defies definition. I was first struck by the lobby’s elegant “3-D” design carpet, and the Spartan somewhat oriental-style furniture and reception desk. Andrée Putnam’s avant-garde style provides travelers with a “retro-contemporary/faux-industrial” visual and tactile experience.

My room celebrated a harmony of minimalist luxury and comfort (the grey/black checked blanket and soft Paris sheets were a delicious treat) that extended to everything from metal clock and Ipod player at my bedside to the designer chair by Robert Mallet-Stevens and lamp by Felix Aublet and Mariano Fortuny. A black and white photograph of flower pistils hung on the wall. It was only when Toulouse discovered the bathroom—the most elaborate example of avant-garde artistic expression and practical utility—that I realized I’d entered Putnam’s world of French subversive design. I recognized the influence of Sainte Germaine de Pres (where she lived for some time) in its sophisticated and daring simplicity; something only Parisians seem to understand. Says Putnam, “To not dare is to have already lost. We should seek out ambitious, even unrealistic projects…because things only happen when we dream.”